Gulf Coast Oil Spill Lawyers Appointed to Leadership Roles in MDL

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who is presiding over the consolidated federal BP oil spill litigation, has appointed 19 attorneys to serve in leadership roles in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL). The BP oil spill lawyers will perform actions during pretrial proceedings that will benefit all plaintiffs who have filed a lawsuit in federal court over damages caused by the massive Gulf Coast spill.  

Gulf Coast oil spill lawsuits have been filed by shrimpers, oyster farmers, resorts and other businesses claiming that the man-made catastrophe has caused them to suffer economic loss. There are also lawsuits filed by states and environmental groups who are suing for damages over the environmental impact, and lawsuits from property owners whose beaches are now covered with tar balls and the corpses of fish and fowl dying as a result of the contamination from oil and dispersants used to break it up. In addition, there have been a number of Deepwater Horizon wrongful death lawsuits filed by family members of workers who died on the rig.

In August, all BP oil spill lawsuits were consolidated and centralized before Judge Barbier as part of an MDL for pretrial proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. At the time, there were about 80 oil spill lawsuits located in seven different federal courts across the country. As Gulf Coast oil spill lawyers continue to review and file potential lawsuits in federal court, they will also be transferred to Judge Barbier’s Court for coordinated handling.

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Barbier appointed attorneys James Parker Roy and Stephen J. Herman as Plaintiffs Liaison Counsel. Roy and Herman will be jointed by Brian Barr and Scott Summy to make up the Plaintiff Executive Committee. The four of them will oversee a panel of 15 lawyers who will make up the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee.

Consolidation of the Gulf Coast oil spill lawsuits into an MDL allows the parties to conserve resources, reduces duplicative discovery in dozens of different cases, avoids potentially conflicting rulings from different judges in different courts and serves the convenience of the witnesses, parties and the court.

The gulf coast oil spill started shortly after the April 20 explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon sent the oil drilling rig to the bottom of the Gulf and unleashed an oil spill in the Gulf that is shaping up to be the worst environmental disaster in history. The blast killed 11 workers and sent tens of thousands of gallons of oil gushing from a mile-deep well in the ocean floor. It took three months for BP to successfully cap the well and staunch the flow of oil into the gulf.


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